The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME) is not getting the credit it deserves for all it achieves, according the 15-member grouping’s top public servant.
Secretary General Irwin LaRocque Monday admitted that the CSME was seen by many as a waste of time, but said this was simply because the people of the region did not know enough about the grouping’s achievements.
“There are always a few things I can say that we can do better, but I think we are doing not too badly . . . . So we have to do a better job at communication basically, both from the standpoint of the secretariat as well as the member states. I regret that people see it as a waste of time. I don’t think it is. Absolutely not,” LaRoque told a news conference in Grenada on Monday to announce the agenda for the July 4-6 CARICOM Heads of Governments conference in St George’s.
“It is constant communication to the people of the region in terms of what we are doing, what we are achieving and how we are going forward. Sometimes we take for granted what it is that we are doing,” he said.
CARICOM is yet to achieve the second phase of the integration process, which includes harmonized economic policy.
However, the secretary general said at the last summit the leaders had taken stock of the CSME, and that a roadmap was being prepared to help countries that were “lagging behind in certain areas”.
“We are not yet at the point where we can say this is going to be adopted as the way forward, but a roadmap for those countries that are lagging behind in certain areas, we are in discussion with them on time frames that need to be adhered to. That does not mean that the rights and obligations that member states have by virtue of the Treaty of Chaguaramas or by decisions taken is negated,” he said.
LaRocque said both the Georgetown, Guyana-headquartered secretariat and the member countries had an obligation to inform the general public “what is going on and how they are benefiting from it in terms of functional corporation in a vast number of areas – education, health, our advocacy in the international community – all of this redound to the benefit of member states”.
He announced that the three-day meeting would have a heavy emphasis on tourism, human resource development and entrepreneurship.
Other matters on the packed agenda include crime and security, border issues, health, climate adaptation, renewable energy, and Brexit.